South Wellfleet Inn

(550)
1955–60
Wellfleet, MA
Oil on canvas
33 1/4 x 43 5/8 in. (84.5 x 110.8 cm)
Signed upper right: "E W Dickinson"
Deborah and Edward Shein
Photo: Babcock Galleries

Notes

Notes: Painted in Wellfleet, MA and New York, NY. See drawing "South Wellfleet Inn," 1939. ED note: "An ambitious piece from a drawing made in 1939." 1955: August 1 "Stretched 43 1/2 x 33 1/4, August 2, 14, 21, 30, December 1.

1956: January 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 30, February 1, December 10 "an amonite [sic] to appear." An ammonite is a fossil of a prehistoric sea creature with a spiral shell. In 1942 he was given an ammonite by a friend].

1957: January 19, 21, 25, 26, 28, February 9, March 8 "looked at 44/34", June 16" I didn't think to cover thefact that, with approach to the tree, less of its thickness is visible - a very slight matter unless one be within perhaps a foot." June 20, in Wellfleet " found that since 6:00 pm yesterday, it [studio] had been entered and that lead white had been squeezed heavily in 6 or 7 places on the 44/34. I now keep the place locked." August 3, 4, 5, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 26, 28, September 2 "I walk to Inlet So. took 10 photographs of trees for 44/34 ", October 4 "blocked out most of 44/34 (hid it) as I did with the 60/48 . . . Just the time.", 7, 9, 11, 12, 25, 26, 28, November 6, 8, 9, 11, 15.

1958, May 12, at studio "looked at 44/34." May 22 "got 44/34 & took it to Juleys to be photographed."

1959: February 27 "painted 44/34 again !", 28, March 11, 13, 14, 16, 30, April 3, 4, 5, 11, 13 "piece engrosses", 17, 18, 20, 25, 27, 29, May 1, 2,(has had 20 sittings in 1959, but revises number to include all previous ones, so now 55), 4. Memo for May "(a calculated 56 sittings so far on the 44/34. It is too small; 66 is more like it.)." September 30 to studio "pleased with 44/34. I had forgotten that it was beginning to be quite well along." October 3, 7, 9, 10, 12 "I am happy to feel like a painter again. How many years I have felt like one." October 16, 17, 19, 28, November 4, 6, 7 "left side picking up." "[sketch] roof antifix [sic] (44-34))", 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18 "painted rose", 20, 21, 23, 30 "painted (rose)", December 2, 5, 9 "(The 44/34, last fall, [1958] I used by my bed to keep out the draft from the window)."

1960: January 6 "re-drawing bottom.", 8, April 5, both Dorothy Miller of MOMA and ... Hale of Metropolitan want the 44/34. April 8 Edith Jay speaks of interest in it. April 28, "Could I build .......... into the 44/34?" ? ?? May 30 "I feel full & have felt full of inventiveness & freshness & wanting to go far with the 44/34. I shall in the fall & shall finish it in the spring, maybe." October 7 "painted upper L", 8, 10 "painted Upper L", 14 "reviewed [painting]", 15.

1962: November 19 "Hung up the 44 x 34 near the clock, Entrance on L vert. edge. [NY apartment]", (journal). To EHS, November 16, 1962, he will work on an old piece after December 4th.

1963: January 24, it to studio.

1964: May 19, in studio ". . . looked at the 43/33 [sic] I wish to finish it beginning next fall !"

1965: Letter to R. Parmenter, September 29: "There is to be in the W [Whitney] a quite big unfinished (they're all unfinished) piece 43 x 33 of much aspiringness. . . . I never did anything like it before".

1965: letter to Thomas Hess, Editor, Art News, June 29:"A propos the unfinished 44 by 34: it has for some time been laid aside but I feel by no means through with it nor tired of it. It is presently in a confused state and I intend to simplify it & develop it. Whatever color scheme it may come to have will, I trust, come to some rest - for better or for worse. But with its also color confusion at present, I would be, am very loath to have it reproduced in color. To come clean: I do not wish it to be. If you wish to reproduce it in black & white, OK."

1965: To Lloyd Goodrich, Director, Whitney Museum, June 29:"During your and my time in the studio I outlined something regarding my plans for the presently confusing and incomplete piece. Whenever I do that I feel uncomfortable - not with my confidante but with myself. Finishing the piece must be a matter of paint, not words."

1970: "Ref. the 34/44, So. Wellfleet Inn. concoct some explaination [sic] of the combining a view of an object in nature with the object itself."

Dorothy Seckler commented in Provincetown Painters, "After decades of explorations with perspective, he [ED] had pulled off a stunning tour de force in which perspective was exactly reversed. . . . " The 1939 drawing of the South Wellfleet Inn is copied several times with smaller copies overlapping the largest, a contradiction of the expectations of perspective representation in which objects appear smaller the further they are from the viewer. This painting is unfinished but not abandoned.

Provenance

Deborah and Edward Shein
Mr. & Mrs. Arnold Kirkeby
Deborah and Edward Shein

Exhibition History

1965 Whitney: Edwin Dickinson. Major retrospective
196869 Venice Biennial: The Figurative Tradition in Recent American Art: Edwin Dickinson
1971 Knoedler & Co: What Is American in American Art
1971a PAAM: Open Membership Show
1971d PAAM: New England Art: A Selection of the Work of New England Artists
1973b PAAM: Selections from the Permanent Collection
1974 Cape Cod Conservatory: An Exhibition by Edwin Dickinson
197778 Burchfield Center, Buffalo: Tribute Exhibition: Edwin Dickinson
1982b NAD: Art Students League Benefit Sale, dated 1950-1951
1988 RISD: 1900 To Now. Modern Art from Rhode Island Collections